About two or three years ago Olaf decided to pit the two older boys against each other in a race to memorize the Articles of Faith. They were off, out of the gates, running full bore, sure they could whip this easy challenge within a few hours of a Sunday afternoon. They passed one, two, and then three got a little tricky. Middle Child got it pretty quick and moved on to four. Calvin, on the other hand, started getting discouraged he couldn't memorize it nearly as quickly as his younger brother. He finally got three memorized and moved on to four also.
By this time Middle Child had finished four and started on five. Calvin struggled but eventually got four in a relatively short amount of time, it is the most famous and most oft quoted Article of Faith. Calvin started on five which Middle Child had already mastered and was halfway done with six. Calvin started getting upset he couldn't best his little bro at something! The tears started welling up in the eyes and falling. The defeatist attitude showed its ugly face.
Meanwhile Middle Child had polished off six and instantly started on seven, a relatively short one. Now Calvin was spending more time trying to fail than he was trying to memorize. Calvin was upset. He would read a couple words, cover them up in the book, try to remember them, fail, and start crying again. It was quite comical for us parents. We have to find the humor in anything we can in order to stay sane.
During all of this Middle Child is learning something about himself. He is better at memorizing than his big brother! This is new territory for him. After being the younger brother and enduring all the hassles and humiliation that comes with that title, he is reveling in this new found superiority. He is even rubbing it in Calvin's face in his nonagressive style typical of a middle child. Calvin continued to break down while Middle Child sped ahead, eager to win this easy race.
I don't think Middle Child learned all 13 Article of Faith, we were in the car to visit Grandpa, so there was a time limit. When we got to Grandpa's, Calvin got out of the car, sad, dejected, and beaten. Middle Child emerged victorious, and was eager to let everyone know. When he exceeds all expectations he loves to let the world know. He likes that attention. Calvin, on the other hand, didn't want to hear another word about the whole affair, he just wanted to put it behind him and never look back.
One interesting note is that this defeatist attitude Calvin would get sometimes had emerged less and less over the last year of his life. He was growing up and maturing and it was wonderful to see that in his personality as he became more sure of himself.